THE screenplay for Scarface (World, 12.25am) was written by Oliver Stone (based on the 1932 gangster film of the same name) which shows that he has always had an eye for poetic excess. Brian DePalma (Carrie, Dressed To Kill) directed and Al Pacino plays Tony Montana, the Cuban refugee with a violent streak who is unstoppable in his quest for the American dream. Almost straight off the boat and he's involved in crime, murdering a political figure for drug dealer Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia). They get their green cards and are soon on Lopez's payroll. Scarface is an effective and visceral experience, but has been criticised for showing only one thing, that crime does not pay. It ends - this is giving nothing away - in a blood orgy, but along the way it is a showboat of cinematic style, with one especially memorable shot of Pacino soaking in an oversized bathtub. Watch out for early appearances by Michelle Pfeiffer as a drug-addicted gangster wife and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves) as Lopez's sister, Gina. IT was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, but The Alamo (Pearl, 1.20pm) is little more than a sprawling, ponderous history lesson and showcase for director/star John Wayne. It recreates the defence of the Alamo in 1836 Texas, when 187 Americans and Texicans held off Santa Anna's army of 7,000 men for 13 days. The major focus is on Colonels William Travis (Laurence Harvey), Davy Crockett (Wayne) and Jim Bowie (Richard Widmark). Wayne's production company spent some US$15 million (HK$116 million) on the movie; he used his good friend John Ford as a second unit director, but later cut much of his material when he realised how long the film had turned out to be. The result is a patriotic epic that flopped at the box-office, perhaps because it chronicles one of America's most famous military losses. RIDLEY Scott's 1492, Conquest Of Paradise (Pearl, 9.30pm) was timed for the quintennial (that's 500th anniversary) of Columbus' landfall in the New World. It received very mixed reviews and stirred a debate that continues today; was Columbus a great visionary, or did he contribute to the cultural genocide of native Americans? The film is visually brave, as you would expect when the director of Blade Runner is let loose with a US$15 million budget. Full-sized copies of four ships had to be built and sailed to the location in Costa Rica. The colonial settlement of Isabela was built from the ground up. But there is something wrong. Not Gerard Depardieu, a Frenchman, in the lead, or Sigourney Weaver as a dark and distant Queen of Spain. Conquest Of Paradise simply isn't alluring viewing. It's lush, it's full of rampaging natives, disease and death, but it's as flat as a pancake. THE hammy horror, as opposed to Hammer Horror, From Beyond (World, 9.35pm) is brought to you by the same people who made the Re-Animator series. It takes a while to warm up, but eventually cuts loose in outrageous fashion. It's based on a story by H. P. Lovecraft about a scientist searching for a sixth sense. Not for the faint-hearted. TONIGHT's episode of Diana And The Royal Family (Pearl, 8.30pm) is the last. It follows Diana through her early years as a member of The Firm, from the tender age of 16 when she was first said to have fallen in love with The Prince of Wales. This is pure soap opera; she is the victim, he is an 'uncaring' prince. IT'S a travesty but it's difficult to resist. The Sound Of Music (World, 9.30pm, Sunday) is being wheeled out again, with those little Von Trapp children, all dressed in curtains, Julie Andrews as fresh as an Alpine daisy and only Christopher Plummer showing any signs of subversiveness. The songs are hard to forget, although I am trying; The Sound Of Music, Do Rei Mi, My Favourite Things, Edelweiss, Climb Every Mountain and the pick of the bunch, The Lonely Goatherd. There are Nazis lurking in there somewhere, but don't be duped into thinking there's a story. This was also the film that damned Julie Andrews' career. She later resorted to revealing her nether regions in an effort to prove she would not be typecast.